Saturday, March 10

Fear and Traveling in Fukushima

Looks great, but some are worried this water might be irradiated.

Twenty previous English teachers that worked in Japan under the JET Program got a free ticket back to their prefectures to acclaim the safety of the area and dig the tourism industry out of the dumps. They were paid for living expenses and told to blog on their expenses with a little nudge to merit Japan's worthiness as safe for tourism. One of these participants, James A. Foley who taught English in the Fukushima prefecture gives a pretty level-headed account of his return travels.

Iwaki is a city of modest population along the Pacific Ocean that attracts visitors with its natural beauty. The area around the downtown train station is made of neon lights and mystery bars, but it’s flanked by rolling green mountains and prominent farmland that gives the old coal mining town a down-home rural edge.

Upon my arrival at Narita International Airport in Tokyo, I disclosed my travel plans to immigration officers. When I told them where I planned to go, one looked dumbfounded.

“You can’t go to Fukushima,” he says. “It’s dangerous.” The other expressed only mild concern and thought I would be all right in Iwaki. I found that tenuous balance, between freaked out and just fine, one that resonated whenever Fukushima came into the conversation.

Read the full article at JQ Magazine.

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